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ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Committee on Finance has postponed a major budgetary proposal (2024-25) to extend tax exemptions to the erstwhile tribal areas for another year up to June 30, 2025.

Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) Chairman Saturday informed the Senate Standing Committee on Finance that the budget cabinet meeting held a detailed discussion on the withdrawal of the time-bound exemption to erstwhile tribal areas, but the federal cabinet rejected the viewpoint of the FBR.

Cabinet considered the extension in tax exemptions granted to the industrial units of iron/ steel, plastics, ghee, textile, and other sectors located in the erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas/ Provincially Administered Tribal Areas.

A budget that at once seems overambitious

According to the FBR, five five-year exemptions from tax on income and from withholding taxes with effect from 1st day of July, 2018 was provided to FATA/PATA up to 30th day of June, 2023 which was extended for one year up to 30th day of June, 2024.

It is proposed that further exemption from income and withholding taxes may be extended for another one year up to 30th day of June, 2025.

Proposals regarding property tax extensions for FATA and PATA were postponed, pending reconsideration by the finance committee.

The Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Revenue convened for its 5th session to meticulously scrutinize the provisions of the Income Tax Ordinance, 2001 as outlined in Clause 6 of the Finance Bill 2024.

Chaired by Senator Saleem Mandviwalla, the meeting saw the participation of committee members including Senator Sherry Rehman, Mohsin Aziz, Anusha Rahman Ahmad Khan, Shahzeb Durrani, Farooq Hamid Naek, Shibli Faraz, and Senator Manzoor Ahmed Kakar.

In attendance were also the Chairman of Federal Board of Revenue and representatives from relevant departments.

The committee members were apprised on the introduction of a new category termed “Late Filer” under the Income Tax Ordinance, targeting individuals who sporadically file returns without consistent adherence.

The committee underscored the need to impose stricter penalties, proposing a 10% tax levy and withdrawal of previous concessions.

Additionally, clarifications were provided regarding the misunderstanding around international travel restrictions related to NTN numbers on passports. Addressing misconceptions, Chairman FBR clarified that the requirement to link NTN numbers with passports for international travel applies only after due notice and inclusion in the income tax general order, dispelling public concerns regarding immediate travel restrictions.

Furthermore, amendments highlighted to include provisions for the taxation of capital asset transactions and extend the carry forward period for business losses, notably benefiting entities like Pakistan International Airlines. And the introduction of 100% tax credits for coal mining projects in Sindh.

The committee expressed unanimous support for extending similar benefits to other provinces.

The committee also deliberated on advertising expenses related to brand royalties, expressing reservations on proposed clauses affecting local investors and ownership control thresholds.

In response to queries regarding income tax on imports, committee members expressed astonishment over proposed methods for determining minimum taxable values, advocating for customs evaluations as the standard practice.

The committee gave reservations and deferral of the amendment for further review alongside sales tax amendments.

Earlier decisions included approval to revise tax slabs, rejection of a proposed capital gains tax on property, and endorsement of withholding taxes on phone and internet services for non-filers.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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